Condo Paper Chase

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The saga or drama or whatever one might call it continues.  My downstairs neighbor now wants to make “peace” (cough cough).  Thus the letter I received in the mail this past Friday afternoon.  Such a lovely treatise, carefully written, not so artfully communicated.

I wish I could call it anything but bullshit.

The letter starts off with good intent.  The lawyer wants to be a go between, the one who brings peace to the “long simmering dispute” with no intention “to escalate this feud”.  How nice.  What a saint this man is.  My neighbors have hired a mediator.  That’s a good sign, right?

I thought that initially, as I scanned the letter.  This could be a good thing.  Then I actually read the letter.  Call it what one wants, but what it is is a not so veiled attempt at manipulation, a list of demands, an attempt to get me to agree in writing so that it can be held over my head.  What it really constitutes is just another complaint, an attempt to point a finger at someone who doesn’t behave exactly the way Ms. B wants me to behave.  It’s crazy.  I am a single, middle aged man who goes to bed early virtually every night except Saturday night, who just wants to live a quiet existence.

That is part of the issue that I have.  Last April, what I was really wishing for was to move into my quiet place of refuge, recover from the trauma of the separation and the change in my life.  Instead, I inherited a complaining witch who wants to manipulate me in order to make her happy.  Without moving out, it’s impossible to comply to the standards she wants met.

Thad must be one happy, content, satisfied man.  All I can say is that she had better be one exceptional f***.

This guy says that he met with T & T for “a couple of meetings”.  It’s nice to know that they think that a lawyer is necessary.  After all, previous occupants of my condo only received letters taped to their door and an occasional visit from the police.  I am the first to get a letter from a lawyer.

I like the audacity of paragraph 9.  Seriously, you actually think that I am going to let my nutcase neighbor text me to complain in real time?  I am a moron, but not an ultra maroon (thank you, Bugs Bunny).

I talked to my brother after the letter was received last Friday, then emailed a copy to him.  My brother is an excellent lawyer, so he will have an interesting commentary to supply, I am sure.  My guess is that he will say that no response is required, something that I agree with.

Some day, I will live a drama free life.  It has to happen, right?

 

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No More Mister Nice Guy?

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Try as I may, I am no Alice Cooper.  I have never tried to be Alice Cooper.  I should clarify that.  What I am is a nice guy, no doubt about it, and I seem to accomplish that without trying.

Ask my downstairs neighbor, however, and I am a very bad man.  After all, I let my friend walk the 10 feet from my living room to the front door this past Saturday night in her heels.  For the second time in this young year, my neighbor complained about those 3-4 little steps that seem to disturb my disturbed neighbor.  This time, she issued a formal complaint to the property manager of the condominiums that I live in.

Normally, I would know about the complaint because the property manager would call me to get my side of the story.  I know the routine by now as it has happened too many times already, more than I have reported here.  With all of her formal complaints, shrieked complaints, rants, love letters taped to my front door, visit to the condominium board meeting to complain (I had lived in my condo less than a month then), I know that management procedure is to notify me of the complaint.  Except this time, that is not what happened.

20180211_173710Yesterday afternoon, I called our property manager to ask if there is anything that I am required to do to remedy the large and numerous icicles hanging across the back of my condo.  Between last Friday and Sunday, we had over 12 inches of snow in our part of Chicagoland.  Due to the way my condos are built, which is without ceiling insulation, ice dams form.  When we have extreme weather like we just had, ice is a real problem.  The property manager thanked me for calling, advised that there was a crew removing the icicles over the garages and courtyard entrances.  If I could knock down the icicles that I could reach, it would be greatly appreciated, she told me.  There was a pause and I could sense her grinning on the other side of the phone.

You have a second floor condo, correct?  (yes)  Your friendly neighbor sent us another complaint about you this week.  Want to guess what it was about?  (heels)  Bingo.  I didn’t think this one was worth contacting you, but since you called I have to tell you.  I just filed it in her already thick file of complaints.

How considerate of her.

No reaction was the best course of action.  After all, my mad neighbor has cried wolf so many times that no one takes her complaints seriously.  I tried to purge it from my mind, dismiss the complaint for the silly mean thing that it is.  I wish that I had the personality that allows that to happen.  I don’t (surprise, surprise).  However, I vowed to ignore the temptation to react.  It was truly a WWJD moment for me, except I really think that Jesus probably would just call my neighbor to him, cure her of her madness, and the world would be right again.  I am not God.. not even close.. and more often than I like, I do what is contrary to what God wants from me or for me.

I tried.  As I walked past her door on the way to my place, I waved my fingers in her direction.  BE HEALED.  The fingers probably should have been pointed at my own head.

As I walked through my front door, the little devil on my shoulder whispered just think about what it would feel like to stomp your way through your place just once.  Hmmm… that WOULD feel good.  I tried it.  STOMP STOMP STOMP.  I could feel the vibration, knew that it was likely shaking her walls.  I could hear her shriek.  It felt very, very satisfying to hear that shriek.

As the evening wore on, my single goal became to aggravate my downstairs adversary.  I polled Facebook to get ideas, with some excellent suggestions offered by friends with big devils on their shoulders.  The thing was, I already know how to aggravate my neighbor.  After all, she has given me plenty of detailed information about her dislikes over the past year.  All evening, I stomped around my place, flushed the toilet every 15 minutes, ran the sink disposal longer than required when I washed my dishes, ran the dish water scalding hot because it makes the pipes shake.  I even devised a way to make the sound of heels on my wood parquet dining room floor — two small fireplace logs struck against the floor.  That one evolved into a fireplace log tap dance after a time or two.  The thing is, I knew where the evening was headed.  Once she had the right cause, she would call the police.  She had done it to the previous owner of my condo.

It happened.  At 1:30 this morning, I made a potty trip, flushed, turned the shower on hot and let it run, did a little log dance in the dining room.. and paused with an evil sneer as the shrieks rose delightfully from below.  I turned off the shower, returned to bed, waited to hear the police car pull up out front.

2 AM brought a light knock on my front door.  I already knew that it was officer friendly.  I dressed, answered the door, invited the two officers in.  They asked if I was Steve, asked if I live alone, then explained why they were there.  The officer who did most of the talking was stern, advised me that my actions were childish.  I nodded in agreement.. he was very correct and I knew it when the evening began that I was being childish… and I was also fed up.  This laid back, nice guy was fed up and tired of being Mister Nice Guy.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, please bail me out!

 

Blessed Assurance

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Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
Oh what a Savior, wonderful Jesus
The first time I remember hearing this song was my father singing in the living room of our house, Mom playing the piano while Dad sang along.  My parents were young, barely in their mid twenties, young not only in age or as parents, but also young in their faith.  One of the most beautiful blessings of my life has been watching the two people who brought me into this world grow together in God’s love, their relationship flourishing in the light of the God that they put first.. together.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
Through my dad, I learned what it is like for a person to truly seek God, who really wanted to live out what they believe.  Dad has never been perfect, something that I have learned to appreciate as I realize how imperfect we all are, how children first see a father who is flawed yet becomes the best person as we experience life through the same eyes, the eyes of a father.  As the years have past, as my own life becomes shared through the same experiences he has experienced, as I see how my father has become one of the best people on this planet, I love him more and more.  Dad’s example led me to believe in Jesus, to want to seek God, and to see God in a genuine way.  If you knew my dad, you would understand what I am talking about.  When he sings Jesus is mine, it’s because it is true in a way that is very, very evident.
My father is more of a friend, yet still my father, these days.
FB_IMG_1518484760289Today is his birthday.  He is 76 years old.  I walked past this photo of him this morning, one I display on my fireplace mantel, and I realize how much like him I have become.. so glad that I have.  I don’t know how old he was when this picture was taken, but it must have been early teens.. he was losing his hair before he was twenty.  A friend saw that picture and told me how much I resemble my father, something that I didn’t realize before.  As I have aged, I resemble him more than my mother.  I am glad that I do and am glad that I resemble him in more ways than one.
At least I hope so.  You see, my father has shown me and everyone who knows him a character that is to not only to be admired, it is to be coveted.  This is a man who has been faithful to the same woman nearly 60 years.  She adores him for the man that he is, praises him for his love and support.  I have seen my parents grow together, fight for their love through disagreement, fiercely defend the other and put the other first above anything or anyone else.  If I had an ounce of the character shown to me over the years, I would be a much better person.  As my mother has grown sick the past few years, Dad has patiently cared for her despite the difficulties.  Does he do it without complaint?  No.  He has vented to me a few times, yet I know that he doesn’t take it out on her.  He needs her like she needs him.  Yes, I wish I had what they have.  Sadly, when it came to a wife, I didn’t get the same blessing, wish I had learned a little more from my father what it means to nurture his wife.  Dad loves my Mom, prays with her, shares with her in a way that would make anyone jealous of what they have.
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Dad is a man who loves, loyal to a fault.  Dad cries tears of pride, openly proud of my brothers and I, of friends.  He has shown me what it means to work hard — built several houses for his family while working a difficult full time job.  Yet he still had time to show my brothers and I how to play baseball (and play the game with us when we got older), take us on countless camping trips, read the Bible with us, lead and taught at church, and showed us the value of family.  He is a leader, not just in the community but in our family, something my brothers and I as well as our mother has never doubted.  The man is as strong as can be, vital yet at 76 years, his energy and enthusiasm for life still a great example.  To say that my father is a good man is an understatement.  In it all, it is real obvious where my father draws his goodness.  He has learned a lot through his journey through life, a life that has been spent looking towards heaven.
This is my story, this is my song.  Praising my savior all the day long.
That is dad.  It really is.  I am glad for the blessing of the best father a man can have, one I can look up to, a man I can only only to be some day.  He is my father, a father that celebrate today.

Felix

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It’s hard to believe it, but I have lived on my own for nearly a year now.  Life has changed in a good way, has changed me.

Look at my condo, for instance.  Perhaps the change to Felix Unger tendencies started a while ago, it just wasn’t noticeable whilst living with a large teenage male.  Now that I am living in a smaller space and with only myself to speak for, that space is in fine order.  My bed is made each morning, the first thing I do before even traipsing to the bathroom for tinkle time.

Yes, I flush the toilet, much to the chagrin of my downstairs neighbor, T the Nitpicker.

Strange addictions have reared their ugly head.  One of my first purchases upon moving in was a nice carpet shampoo machine.  My berber is so spectacularly spotless that one can roll around naked without worry.

I often do.  That’s another benefit of living alone.  I should probably be more careful about closing the drapes on the large sliding glass door in my living room.  Or should I?

My bathroom sink and fixtures receive a quick wipe down every time they are used in the morning.  The shower reaks of the scent of daily shower cleaner, the gleam of the faucet handles and spout a glory to behold.  Kitchen dishes are washed after they are used, the stainless sink also wiped down with a rag and towel after each use.  Bare floors are swept and mopped several times a week.

I am going to make someone a fabulous house husband some day.

Some day I might even shine my bike with floor polish….

Perfectly Potter

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41396And here we see two very happy, possibly giddy, definitely satisfied Harry Potter nerds.  That is Hogwarts in the background, the detail so incredible, as was all of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando.  To say that the place is magical is redundant, I suppose, since the place is all about magic, but it really is just that.  Alyssa and I went there hoping that the place would live up to the hype.  We were not disappointed.

Last Saturday morning we practically floated through the gates at Universal, ready to start the journey that we had anticipated for months.  I promised my little girl that I would treat her with a trip there as her college graduation present, praying with a bit of trepidation that I would be able to live up to the promise.  Things, literally THINGS, tried to stop me from keeping my promise — car repairs, broken teeth, car accidents.  None stopped us.  My car decided to break down last Thursday night, when I was packed and ready to drive the 3 hours to pick Alyssa up at college for our flight out of Indianapolis.  I had to scramble for a rental car, pray that I would trust God to take care of things, and forget about what that repair would cost while I was with my daughter (I succeeded).  On the way to pick up her last Friday, I witnessed a head on collision, a car turned into the path of an oncoming car.  That oncoming car crashed through the other car, spun around it and skidded to a backwards stop about ten feet from the rented car that I was driving. VZM.IMG_20180126_132240

An hour later, after waiting for the accident to be cleared, I met my daughter.  We made it with time to spare for our flight.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando, is split into two separate parts of the park.  One section is Diagon Alley, with Kings Crossing station next to it, where visitors can take the Hogwarts Express train to Hogsmeade.  The entrance to Diagon Alley is hidden, so much that we walked past it and had to ask a park attendant how to find it.  In front of the entrance is the Knight bus, where we had stopped so Alyssa could take a picture with its conductor (Stan Shunpike).Potter Alyssa Shunpike

Once we found the entrance, we were overtaken with awe.  We felt like we had just walked into the book, the shops as well as Gringotts bank, complete with fire breathing dragon on top, so finely done that we were delighted.  Immediately necessary was a trip to Ollivander’s wand shop, where we witnessed the wand selection ceremony, then entered the shop to select a wand for Alyssa.

She wanted a wand with the hope to use it to direct her future high school band while they play the Harry Potter theme.

Alyssa chose Luna Lovegood’s wand, a fine choice.  Leaving the shop with wand in hand, we looked for the symbols placed around Diagon Alley that marked where the wand could be used to create magic.

We met plenty of characters.  Alyssa’s favorite is Hagrid, so she was ecstatic that our timing was perfect for her to meet him and pose in the sidecar of his motorcycle.Potter Alyssa Hagrid

We also met Severus Snape. I have say that the guy was almost a dead ringer for Alan Rickman.  It’s one of my favorite pictures from the two days we were there.Potter Alyssa Snape

Yes, my ginger daughter wore a tee shirt that said “MUST BE A WEASLEY”.  Hahahahaha.

We had butter beer.. twice.  It was a necessity.  Sweet.  Worth the money, as was the whole experience.  The Gringotts ride, a 4D reality ride, was fantastic.  Since I bought the Universal Express Unlimited pass, we were able to ride anything as much as we wanted.  Rarely did we wait more than 5 minutes to ride.

Potter Alyssa Gringotts

Most of the rides at Universal are 4D virtual rides, so if you want to ride roller coasters, you might be disappointed.  There are three real coasters there, the scariest is a ride called Rock It, the first climb literally straight up.  Our favorite coaster was the Hulk coaster, which shoots you over the first climb with a steam launcher.  There are better coasters at Cedar Point and Six Flags, but none of those parks beats the experience of Universal Studios.  The attention to detail is second to none, bringing to life movies like Jurassic Park, the Mummy, Shrek, Despicable Me, as well as TV shows such as the Simpsons and Jimmy Fallon.  There is a part of the park dedicated to Marvel comics and the funnies, also Doctor Suess.  We rode the Cat in the Hat ride, a kiddie ride, and were delighted.

We were treated to a selfie opportunity with Hashtag the Panda.  YES!

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We also were surprised by the rental car that we were assigned — a red Dodge Charger R/T hemi.  Cool.  I was in heaven.  When we went to the parking spot to pick up the car, we didn’t know what car we were getting.  Neither of us believed it.

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Exhausted but satisfied, we decided to close out our visit to Universal by having dinner at the Orlando City Walk.  Careful to stick to my budget, I knew we had enough to splurge on dinner.  Alyssa chose the restaurant, a cool looking place called Toothsome Chocolate Emporium.  It was a good choice, with excellent food and desserts.  At one point, Alyssa exclaimed “Dad, this is the best restaurant that I have ever been to!”.  It was an experience, my heart glad that she was having a good time.  This trip was more than I could afford, but it was not one that I could afford to miss.  It was worth every penny, my time with my girl something I will treasure for the rest of my life.  I am thankful and blessed.

Alyssa Potter DeniseMonday, we had breakfast with a woman that Alyssa had befriended and ministered to during her spring break trips to Daytona the past two years.  Denise gushed about how wonderful my daughter is, told me that they keep in touch weekly.  I can’t tell you how proud I am of my daughter.

I arrived home at 3 AM early Monday morning, tired but happy.  Three hours later I would be out of bed and on my way to work, trying to figure out how to pay the $1100 car repair bill and finding transportation while the car is being fixed (as of this writing, it’s not ready yet).  As my eyes closed, I thanked God for the gift that I experienced the last four days, a blessing that I am sure will be remembered as long as I live.

If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Butter Beer

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Last Spring, the men’s breakfast group that I attend every Friday studied and discussed the bible book of Job.  Job was a blessed man, rich with land and cattle and servants and family, a man blameless and righteous in the eyes of God, so much so that Satan challenged God.  The challenge was that God remove the protection he had around Job, let Satan have his way, and surely Job would curse God.  Job suffered terribly, lost all he had, endured friends who said that he was being punished for his sin, yet through it all did not curse God.  In the end, God restored all that Job had lost, rewarded him for his righteousness.

I wish I had the patience of Job.  For that matter, I wish that I could be blameless like Job.  When it comes to righteousness, I am not worthy to even scrape one of his boils.

Here comes my whine.  I have a tendency to come here to do that.

Tomorrow, I am driving 4 hours to meet my daughter, get a lift to Indianapolis to fly to Orlando.  I wrote about it a few days ago.  This is going to be a fantastic trip, one like I have never been able to experience.

This afternoon, two blocks away from home, the low coolant warning light came on in my car.  It wasn’t overheating, so I assumed it was just low coolant.  I let the engine cool, added coolant, took the car out for a short drive.  A mile from my house, the coolant warning light came back on.  I pulled in my garage, checked again.  Coolant was low, so I added more.  This time I let the car run in the garage, checked for leaking hoses, couldn’t find a leak.. that is until I looked under the car to see coolant pouring from the back of the engine.

Crap.

Crap, crap, crap.  What to do?  I fumed for a few minutes, asked God why things like this always seem to happen to me (tried not to curse God.. even Job asked God why bad things were happening to him).  I called the rental car company that I normally deal with, got a great deal on a rental car.  While I am not quite making lemonade, I am avoiding the persimmons.  I will take my car to my mechanic in the morning, get in the rental car, and save the worries until next Tuesday.

The car broke down in my garage, for goodness sakes.  This could be worse.  I could have been stranded on the tollway on the south side of Chicago tomorrow (that’s bad shoo shoo), instead, and trying to figure out how to make the flight to Orlando.  Really, I should be counting my blessings.  The car was going to break down any way and it broke down in a convenient place.

I am packed, ready to go.  I finally have enough money to relax on a vacation, something I don’t ever think has happened before on any vacation that I have taken.  Four days with my wonderful daughter.  What else can I ask for?  Perfection?  Over rated.

Butter beer, here we come!

Freaking Potter World!!!!!!!

Harry freaking Potter World awaits!  The trip that my daughter, Alyssa, and I have been waiting for is just a few short days away.

I am so happy that I sired a nerd girl.

This weekend is it.  January 26, I drive to my daughter’s college in northeastern Indiana, where one of her friends will take us to the airport in Indianapolis for our flight to Orlando.  Saturday and Sunday, I have tickets to Universal Studios for us, complete with express passes.  We are staying with my friends Rich and Pam, who have a nice house in Orlando, minutes away from the park.  Our airfare was cheap, secured with my Southwest rewards points, upgraded to A boarding with a minimal fee.

Last summer, I suggested this trip to my daughter as her college graduation present.  Did she flinch?  No freaking Potter World way!  At the time I suggested the trip as a present, I had no idea if I could afford it.  When I was married, there was no possible way.  When I was not married, it was frightful but possible.  I am still not married, the idea of the trip is still frightful, but it’s reality in a very exciting way.

Did I mention that my daughter and I are going to Harry freaking Potter world this weekend?  Oh yeah, I did.

I do not fear he who must not be named.

I look forward to my first butter beer.

What house will the sorting hat give to me?

Hogsmeade will be so much fun.

This trip became a reality the day after my divorce.  As my daughter and I were lamenting the demise, we found a positive way out of the mire.  The mention of the proposed graduation gift came up and I stepped out in faith, said yes why don’t we do it, and suddenly our conversation turned from doom to Dumbledore.  My friend Rich had offered up his house in Orlando for any weekend in January.  Why not take advantage of the offer?

Suddenly, I felt like I was able to do something that I could never have dreamed of before I was divorced.  Is that terrible to say?  Maybe, but it’s true.  I was not sure that the trip was something that I could pull off financially, but by that point in my journey I had learned to see the possibilities through the blessings.  Free lodging followed by free transportation, followed by financial blessings that probably would not have existed pre divorce.  Today, this trip is already paid for and I have money to spend during our trip.

Not that other things tried to ruin my plans.  A week ago, my car broke down in what looked like a very tragic fashion.  I panicked only to discover the benefit of friendships, friends who provided a very inexpensive car repair ($67).  A tooth that a few months ago had received a root canal cracked in half, fixed at no charge by my dentist.  Almost miraculously, I have been able to put aside enough money to enjoy this trip with my little girl.

Do I sound like a guy who has come to expect things to implode around me?  I am that way, but I am learning that it is not always that way.

So, I get a weekend with my daughter.  Four days.  I expect that we will have a chance to discuss our lives as they exist now, talk about the details.  I hope that I am up to that.  I also know that we are going to have an awesome time, a chance to decompress, a chance to have the fun time we have always wanted to have together.  This is a treat, after all.

Our flight Monday is late in the day.  We are going to drive to Daytona, where Alyssa wants to show me where she has ministered to the homeless during her Spring college break the past two years.  She is excited to show me.  I am excited to see.

There is a lot to anticipate this weekend.  There is plenty to enjoy at Universal.  There is plenty we could talk about.  I am looking forward to this, a little nervous, a lot pumped.

 

Welcome back to the lunatic fringe

I would like if you could keep the noise to a minimum at night.  Saturday night there was noise during the night in the form of high heel shoes clopping on the wood floor and table and chair legs scrapping on the floor.  It would help to take shoes off or put carpet for her and put felt pads on the legs of the chairs and table.

My downstairs neighbor taped a note to my front door during the day this past Monday.  To put things in perspective, she was gone from the beginning of November until this past Friday.  It took her 24 hours to find something to complain about.  Lunatics waste no time. lunatic fringe

I think if there was not already a history of constant complaining, there might be a touch of legitimacy to this particular complaint, nitpicky as it is.  While the two months of peace were welcome, I find the return of the polish queen to be very unsettling.  Truthfully, I don’t like someone who constantly challenges my patience, who I know is going to frustrate me to the point of anger.

I don’t want to be that way.  After all, this is my neighbor, someone who essentially shares my every day existence.  I can hear part of her life.  I know that she hears part of mine.  She reminds me of it.. she waits for it.

That sucks.  When I saw that note taped to my door last night, my heart sunk.  I mean, really, seriously, this is that important to you?  A few footsteps on the floor in the evening, a chair making noise as it is pulled out is a disturbance to you?  FYI, oh queen who occupies and rules the space beneath me, there is already felt on the bottom of the chairs in my dining room and kitchen.  Furthermore, after the outburst she displayed to my daughter last October, I am worried that she is going to do the same to any guest that I have.  Honestly, how can I possibly be more quiet?

I know it doesn’t matter.  She wants to be queen.  She wants to not only rule her piece of our condo world, she wants to rule mine.

I want to be kind yet firm, understanding.  It’s not possible to be that way with this woman.  I chose to be firm.  I wrote out my response.

.. Your behavior is harassment, mean in nature,…Clearly, you are searching for reasons to complain…My behavior and habits as your neighbor are polite, certainly not deserving the terrible attitude that you are expressing to me…I should not have to fear upsetting you and should be able to have guests.  Any attempt by you to approach or speak to a guest of mine will be considered a threat.  I request that you do not speak to or attempt to communicate with any person who visits me.  I will call the police, possibly file a complaint.  I will pass on any note that you give to me, as well as my response, to our association and property management for record.  I will be kind, but within reason.

I made copies of my response, took it down to my neighbor, knocked on her door, handed the copy to her husband when he answered the door, requested the presence of his wife as I read my response.  I wasn’t going to just tape my response to her door.  I handed the copy to him, advised him what I was doing, stepped back and started to read the letter.

She started yelling at me.  I expected it, hoped it would not happen.  I felt my ire rising, especially when her husband exclaimed that “at 2 AM we heard footsteps”.

SO FREAKING WHAT was my response.  She started to yell back at me.  I told her to shut up, turned around at walked back up the stairs.  I did not want to be angry.

I sent a request to the property management to send a copy of her note and my response.  It was scanned and sent to them this morning.

I just want this to be over.

 

 

 

Foolishness

There are times when I wish that God would be more specific about this whole new body thing, the body we are going to have when we get to heaven.  Frankly, this 56 year old body sucks, even while what I have isn’t half bad for a guy my age.  Give me the body that I had when I was 18 and the mind that I have now, I will be completely satisfied for eternity.

Who knows?

My ego likes to remember what I was like when I was 16-17 years old (and a little older), when I was in the throes of my obsession with running.  While I wish that I would have been a little more committed to excellence, I loved to run and it showed.  By the time I was a junior in high school, I was one of the best middle distance runners in the state of Illinois and with the body that went with that talent.  Colleges took notice, but not enough.  I wasn’t that good, even though I was good enough to be setting school records in my events, on a team that would place second in State my senior year.

I wish that my memory could still remind me what it was like to be that way.  I was 6 feet tall, 160 pounds, with little to no body fat, a powerful runner without experience.  I could have been a lot better with what I had been blessed with, but maturity escaped me in a way that limited my potential.  Holy cow was I strong, though.  The local community college track coach sent his runners out to try to convince me to run with their team after I graduated.

I tried.  It was tough.  I practiced with them, found out what it was really like to run with serious athletes.

Bruce Springsteen has built a career around reminding us about our glory days.  I could write about them, bore people to death with them, and I probably have.

My body has changed over the years.  No longer do I have that muscled, lean body.  It’s something that seems like it never existed.  Yet, cycling has brought me back to a close representation of previous glory at times.  Never again will I achieve what I once had.

Does it matter?  No.

Yet the young man still runs inside of me at times.

 

Give It A Brake — Day Two

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I am glad that I thought through this situation this morning.  Even more, I am glad that I prayed about it.  Of all that has happened the past year or so, my relationship with God has changed.  I am a whole lot more aware of how God is working in my life and in the lives of others, take a little more stock in that than I might have before, and it is showing in how I pray.  I pray purposefully, aware that God is right there with me, and it’s about as close to continuous prayer than ever in my life before.  It doesn’t mean that I am a spiritual genius, only that I am more aware of God’s involvement than I have ever allowed myself before.  Believe me, I am thankful that I am.  It changes my perspective, puts optimism in a day that would have dragged me into oblivion in years past.  I would like to think that I am a different person now.. and that is a very good thing.

Divorce has changed things as well.  Ironically, that too is a reason for optimism.

My son is still on break from college.  What does that mean?  It means that he is a typical 18 year old college boy — he sleeps until noon or later.  I know that I need to be intentional with him, know what I need from him, be persistent with him.  My son lives with his mother, not me, so I can’t just demand his attention.  In some ways, I need to respect his way of doing things, understand him, remember how I was at his stage in life.  Oddly, I have his mother’s ear more now than when I did while we were living in the same house and married.  Knowing that, I took advantage of it today.

I texted my ex wife, let her know what I needed.  To her credit, she asked me exactly what I needed for her to do.  What was my plan?  I let her know that I wanted our son to contact me, let me know his availability and come to me at my office.. today.  I would then go with him to the mechanic, help him with the paperwork and communication, then go back to my office while my son waited for the news on the costs and extent of the repair.  It would teach him, I knew, and was much better than me doing it for him.

That is what happened.  My ex wife roused our son, he called me,  I told him the plan.  He came to my office, I checked out his car, then he followed me to the mechanic.  He waited while I worked.  The mechanic gave the estimate (exorbitant — nearly $900 for what should have been a simple brake pad and rotor job).  My son called me, asked me what to do.  He was panicking.  I told him that we would pay the small inspection fee, I would contact the person we bought the car from, take it to him.

I called the guy we bought the car from.  His business is buying cars, rehabbing them, then selling them to dealers.  He assured me that he would fix my son’s car for far less.

To my son’s credit, he paid the inspection fee at the mechanic, came back to my office on his own.  We talked it over.  We actually talked it over.  None of this would have happened the same way a year ago.  I told him what I could afford and why I couldn’t afford doing everything the mechanic had suggested.  I explained what my own money situation is (strained, using money saved for other purposes).  He agreed to meet me tomorrow morning, when we would take his car back to where it was purchased, where it would be fixed.

His mother texted me when I got home from work.  Call me, she requested.  I did.  She offered to help.  After I picked myself up off of the floor, I thanked her.

There are reasons to be optimistic.